A record-breaking, 46-point third quarter was the difference, as the Hawks defeated New Orleans for the fifth straight time.
In that third quarter, Atlanta set an all-time high by making all 11 of its three-point attempts; converting 15-of-20 shots overall.
The Hawks’ point total also represented a season-high allowed by the Pelicans, though, it was only second best for the Hawks.
From @ESPNStatsInfo: Hawks become the first team in NBA history to go 11/11 from three-point range in a single quarter as they hit all 11 attempts in the 3rd.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) April 7, 2021
The previous best was the Cavaliers going 9/9 from deep (against the Hawks) in the first quarter back on Nov. 15, 2014.
Trae Young led Atlanta with 30 points, including some ridiculously deep threes. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 21, Kevin Huerter finished with 17. Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams came off the bench to contribute 26 more combined points.
That quintet finished 19-26 from beyond the arc. The rest of the Hawks were 1-5.
The Pelicans did get a stellar effort from Williamson in his return from injury.
Zion Williamson's 25 straight games with 20+ PTS on 50% shooting or better ties Shaquille O’Neal for the longest such streak in the shot-clock era (since 1954-1955). pic.twitter.com/pUdbNEqxwI— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) April 7, 2021
He scored a game-high 34 points in 35 minutes, even making 9-10 free throws and his only three point attempt.
It was his 13th 30-point game of the season, 11th most in the league. Among post players, only Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic have more.
At just 20 years of age, Zion continues to place himself among the greatest interior scorers of all-time. His unique combination of speed, power, agility, touch, is something that continues to amaze fans and confound defenders.
Pelicans commentator David Wesley stated that there are some people that you just can’t do anything with. You just have to hope they have an off night. Zion Williamson has reached that point only 69 games into his career.
It seems like the only thing Zion can’t do, is score 40 points.
Seriously. What’s up with that?
Ball started 1-10 before finishing with 12 points, while contributing across the board with 11 assists, nine rebounds, three steals, and two blocks, to go with just one turnover. It was an incredibly complete performance in a losing effort.
And, Isaiah Thomas made his Pelicans debut. At one point, Thomas was the offense, rattling off eight straight points as New Orleans built an early lead, finishing with 10.
Naji Marshall (eight points, nine boards) and Jaxson Hayes (11 points, seven rebounds) both showed plenty of activity on both ends, a welcome sign for the bench.
Coast to Coast for Jaxson pic.twitter.com/nfHdr0kQhj— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 7, 2021
The Pelicans have now lost three of their last four, and face the reality of playing the Brooklyn Nets on the second night of a back-to-back.
With Josh Hart potentially gone for the remainder of the regular season, Nickeil Alexander-Walker out for possibly another two weeks, and both Brandon Ingram and Kira Lewis Jr. listed as day-to-day, the Pelicans are going to have to just make it through the near future the best way that they can.
Fortunately, New Orleans still remains only 1.5 games out of 10th place in the Western Conference standings.
But others can lose for only so long. At some point the Pelicans are going to have to win. There’s no way around it.
And they’ll have to do it no matter who is on the floor.